by Jay Fields

When I saw the house,
it filled with seawater in my head.
Maybe a crab scuttled
across the carpet
or a small fish zipped
from card room to kitchen,
crossing by a flounder.

With the tide collapsing, finally,
the rooms evaporated back
into rooms,
sea-soaked and mildewy:
a cubby with vinyls stuck together,
a swarm of loose playing cards
and yellowed photos of a daughter
in the band,
warped cassette tapes and bloated
do-it-yourself manuals,
a rusted-over electric saw,
gritty stuffed teddies,
an old handgun,
clammy and blue.
And a trumpet, salty.

The family had stayed inland and
a brother of the owner dropped by
while we excavated, digging through
certificates and diplomas and medals.

"Oh-my-God, they kept everything,"
he said, squinting toward the ocean.

It was sea bottom all right
a part of the Gulf, which linked around
to Madagascar and the blue, blue caves
of Italy,
past bird-frothed
swamps and archipelagos,
influenced by a moon
out of kilter.

Jay Fields is a former advertising agency creative director and teacher (Moth Storytelling) at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC Asheville. He now writes poems, essays, memoirs, and regional histories. Jay made three post-Katrina relief trips to New Orleans as part of an Episcopal contingent.